ICC World T20 2016: Australians walking tightrope after loss to New Zealand

DHARAMSALA, India: Australia are already on the cusp of a sixth straight failed World Twenty20 campaign but Steve Smith remains confident they can surge to the title.

Smith's side suffered a spin-induced defeat to New Zealand in Dharamsala on Friday, finishing 9-134 to lose the topsy-turvy thriller by eight runs.

Turning point: Usman Khawaja's runout halted Australia's momentum
Turning point: Usman Khawaja's runout halted Australia's momentum Photo: Getty Images

At the foot of the Indian Himalayas, Australia's quest to climb their version of Mount Everest became even more difficult.

Australia are likely to need three wins to advance to the semi-finals of a tournament they have never won.

It means pool clashes with Bangladesh, Pakistan and India have essentially become knock-out fixtures.

"Absolutely. We're still confident," Smith said of his side's title hopes.


"We've obviously got to turn it around very quickly, with our next game at Bangalore (against Bangladesh on Monday).

"But I'm confident in the group that we've got.

"We can do it."

Smith, who was bamboozled by a beautiful ball from left-arm tweaker Mitchell Santner that turned sharply, implored his team to learn from their mistakes against NZ.

"Everyone in this team has had some success in this format," Smith said.

"I guess you have to try and think back to those moments and think about what you did well.

"Credit to the New Zealand bowlers, they got the ball in the right areas and made us play some pretty average shots."

Australia lost the game with the bat, failing to make the most of an inspired fightback led by allrounders Shane Watson, Mitch Marsh and James Faulkner.

Restricting the Black Caps to a total of 8-142 was a fair achievement given they'd rocketed to 0-58 after six overs.

Opener Martin Guptill smacked 39, including three sixes in Ashton Agar's only over.

Smith had no regrets about asking Agar to deliver the third over of the match.

"Those things happen in the game. He didn't execute as well as he would have liked and went for a few," Smith said.

"But that's the game of cricket. We can't put it down to that."

Australia's response was initially convincing, especially when Usman Khawaja was at the crease.

Khawaja, who was chosen to open ahead of Aaron Finch and top-scored with 38, was run out in the ninth over attempting a second run that was never there.

Khawaja fell amid a collapse of 4-22.

Momentum shifted and Australia never recovered despite the best efforts of Marsh, who clubbed a pair of sixes in a knock of 24.

Left-arm paceman Mitchell McClenaghan grabbed three wickets and was named man of the match, while Australia's middle order was spun out by Ish Sodhi and Santner.

"Uzzy got off to a fantastic start and looked unstoppable," McClenaghan said.

"I thought our spinners did really well.

"It's hard to score on wickets that are turning ... it's something we are probably not used to and I'm sure Australia aren't as well.

"It is the team who can adapt the fastest to the conditions."